31. Letter to the Chargé in Guatemala (Mann) from the Officer in Charge of Central American and Panama Affairs (Leddy)1

Dear Tom: We have devoted considerable conference hours to the momentous problem of the invitation to President Castillo.2 There was notable reserve on the matter within the Bureau. Having in mind your thoughtful letter of April 11,3 and the more recent sharpening of the question presented by Ambassador Cruz’ official request for the visit, with the inevitable complication which a declination would involve, it was finally agreed that nothing less than query to the Embassy should be the first step. Since your reply4 was not read as advising against the visit, we went back to more conferences and then learned that, contrary to preconceptions, a receptive attitude might well be found in higher quarters in the Department, and probably at the White House. This should surprise no one, since some powerful Senators strongly expressed themselves privately as in favor of this gesture and, in addition, there is a political predisposition at this end to emphasize the singular nature of Castillo’s overthrow of the pro-Communist government. Thereupon, the line of decision was quickly taken to present the request and ARA’s recommendation formally, through the customary channels; and this is being done today.

It is pretty generally agreed that the timing of the visit would best be in the early Autumn. Compliance with a date in June is an impossible request for the Department to make and might well scotch the whole venture; on the other hand, a visit next year is considered as likely to be so diluted in the Guatemalan public mind as to lose some of the principal advantages which are hoped for. It [Page 83] would, of course, be permitted to make public announcement of the invitation as soon as it is extended, with the exact date to be settled later in the year.

This timing is somewhat different from your recommendation in the second paragraph of your April 11th letter. However, that recommendation was related to the assumed reluctance of the White House to make an exception to this year’s established list of guests. Should such reluctance not be found (and such evidence as one can get indicates a favorable attitude) the timing we have recommended would seem to coincide with the points you have outlined.

Some of the outside backers of the proposal would prefer Castillo to be here while Congress is in session, in order that he might be invited to make a brief address before a joint session. There are, of course, political reasons for that kind of invitation. However, suitable publicity, from the viewpoint of Guatemala, can be achieved by one or more addresses before other groups, such as the National Press Club here in Washington.

I am hopeful that these developments do not run counter to any of your analysis and conclusions. Throughout the conferring, I have sought to be guided by what I consider to be your own views.

With best regards,

Yours ever,

Raymond G. Leddy5
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 714.11/5–2755. Confidential; Official–Informal.
  2. In telegram 597 to Guatemala, May 18, the Department reported that Ambassador Cruz had requested an invitation for Castillo to visit the United States in June. The Department requested the Embassy’s recommendation on the visit. (Ibid., 714.11/5–1855)
  3. Not printed.
  4. In telegram 616 from Guatemala City, May 20, Chargé Mann replied that the significance of the invitation as a good will gesture “would be diminished by fact that our support of Castillo regime has already been dramatized to point where all politically conscious Guatemalans are aware of our attitude.” Mann recommended that the Department inform Ambassador Cruz “that we do not consider this an opportune time for a visit from either the Guatemalan or the international point of view especially since we expect to make known our continued support of the government in other more effective ways.” (Department of State, Central Files, 714.11/5–2055)
  5. Printed from a copy which bears this typed signature.